In college, my friends and I went on a trip and in our haste to get there, the driver (not me) sped through a construction zone and we got pulled over. I felt horrible because the ticket was going to be very expensive. So, I put on the performance of my life with tears, fake illness, the works, and we got out with a warning. After college, I got four speeding tickets over about a yearlong time period. I tried the tears on three of the four occasions, but it didn’t work. I had to go to driver’s school to get the points off of my license. Then, on my bar application, I had to put the details of my traffic violations, and once that was submitted, if I got another ticket, I would have to pay to amend the application. So, I changed my ways. I kept speeding, but I was much more observant about where the police officers were hiding. And, that worked until a few nights ago.
I was on my way home from a hallelujah good time at an open mic night, and I drove past a police officer with someone pulled over and continued on my way home, as always, driving with the flow of traffic. Then, I saw a car pull up fairly close behind me and the lights came on with just enough siren to get my attention. I thought, “Surely he is not pulling me over for speeding. Maybe my taillight was not properly fixed or something.” My heart started racing and my palms started sweating. I rolled down the window to find a very stern looking police officer, who probably thought I was much younger than I am because my eyes started tearing as soon as he began to explain to me why he pulled me over, which was speeding and not giving enough space for the officer on the side of the road. He took my license and I started praying because I truly did not know the rule that I broke and I had not paid attention to my speed, so I was not speeding purposely. I got a very firm talking to and a warning, praise God, because who wants a $300-$400 ticket.
I was still shaking the entire 2 blocks to my house (yes, I was that close to home). I thought, “Lord, I am thankful that you softened this officer’s heart.” Then, I began to wonder why he let me off with a warning. Maybe it was because he saw my God Belongs In My City t-shirt. Maybe it was the tears. Then, the fleshly side of me voiced the opinion that he didn’t have any proof of exactly how fast I was going because he hadn’t actually clocked me. Nevertheless, when it comes down to it, I didn’t approach the situation with the attitude that he needed to show my evidence of my wrongdoing. Instead, I had a sincerely contrite heart and the officer, and God, showed me mercy. So, what is the point of all of this? This incident taught me a lesson about my attitude towards rules. In this world, we have laws and rules, but more important than that, God gives His children boundaries. Our attitude towards those boundaries can determine how prosperous our lives are. (By the way, if we follow all of God’s commands, there will be no problem keeping man’s laws).
Our attitude about rules stems from how we look at rules. I will take the traffic laws, for example, I usually see the speed limit as a flexible guideline. Sure, it says limit, but as long as you are driving safely and not harming anyone else, what is the big deal with breaking the rules. This is the same attitude with which people approach premarital sex, overindulgence in food and drink and many other sins. When God tells us not to engage in these activities, it is for our spiritual, emotional, mental and physical well-being. He is not calling us to adapt His commands to our own lifestyle.
Sometimes, I look at the rules of the road as frustrating annoyances. I do not just get in my car to drive around. I have places to go and people to see and anything that slows my pace is annoying. Does this sound familiar at all? Why do I have to yield to other drivers? Or slow down at a yellow light? Or drive ten miles an hour so that other people can rubberneck at an accident? Many times I just wish I had a teleporter to get me from one place to another. At times, we view God’s boundaries as frustrating annoyances, too. It is as if we think God is holding out on us. And that is literally the oldest trick in the book. It is the same philosophy that the serpent used to deceive Eve in the garden. God is not going to keep anything good from us. He already has given and still continues to give us more than we deserve. All He asks for is that we show our love through obedience.
God’s boundaries are not flexible guidelines or frustrating annoyances, they are fervent protection. As my uncle, Rev. Paige, said yesterday in his sermon, “God loves us too much to allow us to sin successfully.” If our attitude about rules becomes one of gratitude for protection from dangers seen and unseen, then we will gain a whole new perspective on how much God loves us. I work with children, they beg for boundaries, not literally, of course, but it is very obvious that they thrive on knowing that I will give them guidelines to lead them in the right direction. We need boundaries to show us the right direction for our best lives. And the sooner, we embrace an attitude of thankfulness that God cares enough to lead us in the right direction, the sooner we will fully enjoy our life’s journey. Ms. EV